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Zoom Bombers Interrupt Remote Learning At Niles North, Niles West

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A local school district's remote learning system was recently hacked as students are distance learning during the stay-at-home-order. They're working on safety protocols in Skokie after two schools were attacked by "Zoom bombers."

The hacks are being reported across the country. Hijackers are jumping on the video calls posting pornographic images, hate speech or threatening language.

That's what CBS 2 is told happened in Skokie. It's something Bill Kresse, known as Professor Fraud, says everyone can learn from.

"We are sorry to report that a few remote learning sessions at Niles North High School and Niles West High School were disrupted with incidents of Zoom bombing," a notice from District 219 to high school students and parents said.

It details plans for additional safeguards moving forward and no more video conferencing until they are in place.

Here is a statement from the district:

"Our Information Technology team is currently working to identify a videoconferencing platform that will support meaningful instruction for students while providing sufficient safeguards to prevent such incidents in the future. We are hopeful that we will have an appropriate solution for our teachers and students soon."

CBS 2's Tara Molina asked about those safeguards and was told told their Information Technology team is trouble shooting right now.

But the problem isn not unique to Skokie. It is so widespread, the FBI is issuing warnings about the video conferencing platform and hackers.

"The bad guys are simply generating nine digit numbers, like crank calling," Kresse said. "You do not set these setting correctly, you are inviting problems."

But Kresse said there are ways you can safely use systems like Zoom.

"Review the setting on all of these different technologies, regardless of what platform you're using. You can lock out people. You can limit who can come in," he said. 

And that is where he says the focus should be right now. With districts adapting to remote learning fast because of COVID-19, he said parents should check in with them about safety plans.

"The school as the host of the meetings has to take responsibility. Learn the systems. Learn the settings. Learn the protocols. And put all of those in place," he said.

CBS 2 out to CPS to see what security plans they have in place, with remote learning starting soon...a spokesperson said their IT department is vetting all of their learning tools for security, but parents who still aren't comfortable can opt out of remote learning.

CPS also issued the following statement:

"While many schools are already doing remote learning, it officially begins district-wide on April 13 (next week is spring break). Google Meets is our platform and our IT department vets all digital tools from a security standpoint before recommending usage. Any parent with concerns about digital platforms can opt-out of remote learning."

The FBI-Chicago also issued a statement regarding the Zoom bombers:

"We always encourage the public to practice good "cyber hygiene" practices.  Now that schools are closed statewide and record numbers of children are using these platforms to connect with their teachers and classmates, it is particularly important to ensure that systems remain secure.  When possible, online meetings should be password-protected to ensure that only group members are able to access the system.  Additionally, many applications will allow the use of a "waiting room" function for hosts to approve a guest before entry to a meeting.  If a member of the public feels that their meeting has been interrupted by illegal or threatening images or conduct, we encourage them to report to incident.


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